James Gallogly’s tenure at the University of Oklahoma was short and often unhappy.
Less than a year after he took the helm at OU, Gallogly announced his resignation Sunday, an unexpected move that makes students, faculty, alumni and supporters anxious about what may come next.
Gallogly had many critics, in part because he follows a legend, former OU President David Boren. Their administrative style were sharp contrasts, and Gallogly often suffered in comparison. Boren was a visionary whose solution to many problems was more money. Gallogly is a blunt manager, dedicated to balance sheets and the letter of the law. Boren planted crimson mums on the South Oval and fought for higher state appropriations. Gallogly laid off groundskeepers to stave off a tuition increase.
In February, the university announced a sexual harassment investigation into Boren, who denies any wrongdoing. Boren’s partisans say the probe is part of an ongoing attack on the former president’s legacy. Gallogly insists it is not. The results of the investigation have not been made public, which adds to the unsettled atmosphere for the school.
Gallogly’s corporate style was at times ill-suited to an academic setting. This year, racist incidents on campus, including two students who wore black face on social media, rocked the school. In response to the incidents, Gallogly said many of the right words but seemed to lack the passion and empathy needed to convince his critics. Again, the contrast was to Boren, who Gallogly’s doubters couldn’t help thinking would have done more or, perhaps, the same things, only with more fire.
No one should doubt Gallogly’s love of the university. He worked tirelessly to put the school on a sustainable financial track and, no doubt, brought better management practices to a top-heavy institution. He was never projected to be a long-term president, but the suddenness of his exit with many of his initiatives unfinished adds to the creeping concerns among the school’s supporters that bad news may lie ahead.
We wish Gallogly well and wait anxiously what comes next.